The national average price for gasoline remains relatively flat compared to one week ago, although pump prices have been pressured higher in some regions due to disruptions on the Colonial Pipeline. Today’s average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.22 per gallon, which is one cent more than one week ago, four cents less compared to one month ago and the same price year over year.
While drivers in a number of states (30) are paying less at the pump week-over-week, some volatility remains in Southeastern portions of the United States where gasoline prices saw upward momentum as a result of the Colonial Pipeline disruption. Line 1 operations were restored on Sunday afternoon after more than a week of downtime following a deadly explosion on Line 1 last week. While delivery of fuel has resumed, it may take a week before affected states see any relief at the pumps.
Gas prices on the West Coast continue to be the highest in the country, with every state in the region landing on the top ten list of most expensive markets: Hawaii ($2.92), California ($2.80), Washington ($2.72), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.53), Nevada ($2.53). Prices have been relatively steady over the past week despite tightened supply in the California market and the wrap up of planned maintenance on the Olympic pipeline early last week in the Northwest. BP shut down operations on its Pacific Northwest pipeline system to conduct planned maintenance October 27 and reopened the line a few days later. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report recently revealed west coast gasoline supplies hitting record lows which can likely be tied to the fall maintenance schedule. Most west coast refineries are set to come back online this month.
Pump prices in the Rocky Mountains are dropping due to weakening crude oil prices and demand in the market. Crude prices were under $30 bbl in parts of Montana and North Dakota last week resulting in discounts for every state in the region, with North Dakota (-4 cent) and South Dakota (-4 cents) landing on the list of largest weekly decreases.
Great Lakes and Central States
Pump prices in the Great Lakes region continue to be the most volatile in the nation with three states landing on the list of largest weekly increases: Michigan (+5 cents), Ohio (+5 cents) and Indiana (+3 cents). A 5.0 magnitude earthquake in Cushing, Oklahoma last night may have future impact on prices in the Midwest. The Associated Press reports that the earthquake struck around 7:45 p.m. CST and resulted in minor injuries and power outages. Cushing is home to 13 pipelines that transport millions of barrels of oil a day as well as refined products to states in the Rockies and Midwest. Refined products are delivered from the Gulf Coast via the Explorer Pipeline to Chicago and Magellan Pipeline to Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri markets as well as other Midwest destinations.
Prices for drivers in the Central United States remain some of the cheapest in the country with three states posting prices under $2: Missouri ($1.93), Oklahoma ($1.94) and Kansas ($1.99).
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Prices across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast remained relatively flat except for New Jersey ($2.04), where the national average jumped 25 cents this week because of the new state gas tax hike that took effect November 1. Barring any unexpected impact to production or distribution, prices in the region should drop this month due to dropping oil prices and demand.
South and Southeast
Markets in the South and Southeast continue to post some of the lowest prices for retail gasoline in the nation, with seven states landing on the list of cheapest markets: Arkansas ($1.98), Texas ($2.02), Mississippi ($2.03), South Carolina ($2.04), Alabama ($2.04), Louisiana ($2.05) and Tennessee ($2.06). Despite the low prices in some parts of the regions, drivers in Georgia saw prices jump eight cents on the week because of problems on the Colonial Pipeline. Colonial resumed shipments on Line 1 early Sunday, ahead of their projected afternoon start time. Prior to Sunday’s restart, Line 1 had been shut down for six days due to a gasoline explosion last Monday in Shelby County, Alabama. While delivery of fuel has resumed, it may take close to a week before impacted states see any relief at the pumps.
Recent reports from OPIS show that the actual market impact from the shutdown is expected to be less than originally thought for the month of November. Prior to the gasoline explosion on October 31, Colonial had planned a 20 percent rate cut on Line 1 November 12-21. The rate cuts were needed to remove the 500-foot-long bypass that was installed after September’s gasoline leak, however the scheduled work was completed during last week’s shutdown, which means Colonial will be able to make up about two days’ of gasoline deliveries.
Oil Market Dynamics
Last week, following the explosion and shutdown of Colonial Pipeline Line 1 crude oil was trading higher, but the company quickly announced that Line 1 was scheduled to restart on Sunday November 7th. The restart announcement had a chilling effect on the market and crude oil prices dropped below $45 dollars a barrel. Colonial Pipeline could face congressional scrutiny after the deadly pipeline incident. Several Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Fox requesting a comprehensive examination of Colonial Pipeline and the company’s management as it relates to the maintenance and integrity operations of the system. Also weighing on the market are the continued negotiations amongst OPEC and non-OPEC members. The Secretary-General of OPEC announced today that the group was still committed to developing an output deal to cut oil production, but no formal agreement has been reached. Traders will keep a close eye on the Colonial Line 1 restart and upcoming OPEC meetings. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 59 cents to settle at $44.07 per barrel.